Searching for images by keyword can be inaccurate and labour-intensive, as it relies on human indexing and subjective perceptions.
New ways of searching for images, such as Content-based image retrieval (CBIR), enable you to search by other criteria, such as colour, shapes or texture, or even by uploading or drawing your own image. Find out more and explore with the links below:
You can of course, also search for images using the Google image search engine. However, bear in mind the following:
If you want to copy, use or modify an image you find on Google, you would need to check if you are allowed to do this. This may not be immediately obvious, and/or the information about reuse may be incorrect or unclear. Checking and, if necessary, applying for reuse permission, can be very time-consuming. However, if you choose our image collections which are licensed for educational use, you'll save yourself time and worry.
Can you be certain of the origin and authenticity of the images you have found? It is very easy to alter images online in all sorts of ways. If you need to be certain you are looking at a faithful digital version of an image, choose one of the specialised databases to which we have access. These will also provide full information about each image (for example, creator, date, location, medium, rights information etc.)
Searching for images can be a hit and miss affair, as keywords don't always provide the best results. Specialised image databases often have more sophisticated search methods, such as by creator, medium, technique, location, colour etc.
Google doesn't find everything. Many organisations only make their images available via licensed collections.
Bridgeman and VADS are two of the largest image databases to which we have access for educational use. Between them, they provide access to over one million images across many genres and subject areas. You can search them in various ways, including by keyword, location, medium, artist etc.
We have listed a selection of other major multi-disciplinary image collections below.
We have tried to focus on image collections which you can reuse, but for specific details of the terms and conditions, please consult the terms and conditions of the resource in question.
There is an enormous range of specialised image collections in many different subject areas. Key collections will usually be listed on the Library subject guide for that subject area, but we have also listed a selection below. This guide from JISC Digital Media provides further information about finding subject specific image collections.
For specific details about the use which you can make of the images, please consult the terms and conditions of the resource in question.
Many major galleries provide searchable access to some or all of their collections, together with additional resources to accompany exhibitions. We have included some of the most notable on the Fine Art Library subject guide. Note that they may be included in the 'art history', 'contemporary art' or 'finding images: gallery collections' boxes, depending on the genre of collection.
For specific details about the use you can make of the images, please consult the terms and conditions of the resource in question.
Newcastle University Library’s Special Collections are rich and varied: they comprise rare books and other printed works and unique archives, dating from the 14th century to the present.
We're adding images to our CollectionsCaptured database regularly, ensuring that this resource expands to cover as many of our collection highlights as possible.